The Victoria Royals opened up a 3-1 lead by the first intermission but had to fight off a determined Vancouver Giants attack to score a scrappy 5-4 win Saturday night in Victoria.
The win evened the teams’ opening round Western Hockey League playoff series at a game apiece, with the teams heading back to Langley for game 3 next Tuesday.
Jeff de Wit scored the eventual winner late in the second period and Griffen Outhouse stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third period to secure the victory for the Royals.
Goals by Braydon Buziak and Noah Gregor made it 2-0 by the 15:04 mark of the first, but the Giants’ Dawson Holt scored his first of two goals to cut the gap 1:30 later. Victoria’s Tarun Fizer restored the margin with 2:38 to play in the period.
The Giants came out fast and furious in the second, getting goals 1:15 apart from Brennan Riddle and Milos Roman to knot the score.
The tight game continued, with the Royals’ Jared Freadrich, on the power play, and Holt trading goals 17 seconds apart to keep the score tied, 4-4.
Matthew Phillips fed de Wit for the deciding goal at the 18:02 mark and the Royals were forced to kill a penalty to Tanner Kaspick for the final 1:37 of the frame.
The Giants outshot the Royals 37-26 overall and game 1 hero Trent Miner was once again between the pipes in place of injured No. 1 goaltender David Tendeck. Miner was pulled for the extra attacker with 1:35 to play in the third.
Freadrich’s power play goal is the only man advantage marker in the series so far. The Royals were 1-for-5 tonight while the Giants were scoreless in their one opportunity.
Game 3 gets underway at 7 p.m. at Langley Events Centre, with game 4 set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the LEC. The latter contest will also be televised live nationally on Sportsnet.